Practical Learning in Virtual Worlds: Confronting Literature with Health Educators’ Perspectives

Kate Dagleish, Mary Laurenson


In a radically changing educational world with rapid technological advances, educators need to adapt to new learning styles. This study investigates the use of Second Life (SL) within the Virtual World (VW) environment by healthcare educators as a method to enhance teaching and learning.

A case study design ascertained the views of healthcare educators to determine relationship variables of VW SL initiatives.

The findings reveal healthcare educators had limited expertise in using SL, but recognised its usefulness in bridging the theory/practice gap especially for nursing and midwifery training. The findings confirmed educators’ confusion between VW and Web 2.0 / 3.0 technologies and recommends increasing technological competency. It highlighted educators’ professional expertise of care standards in real-life situations but demonstrated a competency issue in their pedagogical style to deliver SL practice scenarios. Consequently, opportunities for developing critical thinking through SL scenarios remain stilted and solutions through problem-based learning scenarios remain underdeveloped.


Virtual world second Life, nursing and midwifery, healthcare education, clinical practice.

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